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love it if you [take an interest in their lives and goals] but there’s always some tough apples.
X: If you could change just one regulation that affects your industry, what would it be? What could be the unintended consequences of making that change?
P.L.: The clinical trial system is broken. Luckily the FDA is changing. I’m so glad the science side of the FDA is thinking with industry to come up with different ways to do drug development. People need to realize the studies that you do for [win FDA approval] have nothing to do with clinical practice. I’m not talking [just about] oncology. In real-world life, you don’t prescribe placebos. The FDA insists we do placebo-controlled studies. The Europeans are far more ahead with active-control studies; those trials are getting more mainstream in the U.S. as well, for which I’m glad. Placebo [studies] are just tough. It’s just a shift that is happening. It’s not a slam dunk … It’s all about progress.
X: What’s your most impressive or quirky skill that has nothing to do with your day job?
P.L.: We love to work out, be on the boat on Lake Travis. I love sports; I’m just an active guy. It’s good to work hard and play hard.
X: What did you want to be when you were a kid?
P.L.: A professor. The reason is my father was a big professor back in Holland, in anatomy and he was dean of the medical faculty. I was the youngest of five and i wanted to be just like my dad.
My whole family is in the medical and/or biology fields. I got my master’s degree in biology. I got my medical degree and went to pathology. I quickly realized I’m a real people person, which is tough to combine with pathology and being locked in a lab with a microscope eight hours a day. I was interested in the combination of medicine, research, and business. I joined Organon when it was a standalone Organon, a Dutch company. I loved drug development. I traveled around the world and worked in reproductive health, antidepressants, oncology, erectile dysfunction.
The pathology training was good background; you do everything from head to toe. I love to learn new things and dig into new therapeutic areas. People thought I was an OB-GYN because I spent a lot of time on contraception and hormonal health.
X: If you got stranded on a desert island, what’s the one thing you would have to have with you?
P.L.: One of these little squeeze lamps. You use your own hand power to generate light. If I was stranded on an island, the batteries would run out. So that’s what I would do so I can see what the hell’s going on, and perhaps get the attention of some planes flying overhead.